March ’17 Favourites

March has been a ridiculously full on month. I started the month skiing in Banff and now, more than 12 000 km later, I’m back in New Zealand. I’m happy to be home but I’m also exhausted because my body thinks I’m still in Pacific Time and I now need to find work and a place to live – fingers crossed that April will bring me some good news in that department. I feel like a years’ worth of things happened in March but here are some highlights:

VANCOUVER: Despite its reputation as being constantly rainy (which is mostly accurate), Vancouver had the most beautiful weather when we left. The clouds skirted away and the snow of the previous weeks melted, giving us the first blue sky and sunlit warmth we’d experienced in a long time. Our final day we had brunch out and then wandered the Granville Island market, Vancouver ensuring it was hard for us to say goodbye.

Photo 19-03-17, 9 49 19 AM

The view of Vancouver from Granville Island

NEW ZEALAND: Lox and my homecoming wasn’t nearly as lovely as I had hoped because Wellington saw literally the worst traffic ever on the morning of our return, so no one was waiting for us at the airport. Having been out of the country for a year, neither of us had a working cellphone so we spent the first 15 minutes of our arrival feeling very abandoned and very confused. Eventually, Lox connected to the airport wifi and my parents called him through Messenger, letting us know that the traffic meant they had moved only about 500m in the past 2 hours, so it was basically impossible for them to pick us up. Despite the lack of an emotional homecoming, it was so good being back in Windy Wellington, driving along the harbour, seeing our hills (somehow greener than anywhere else I’ve ever been), and now we have a story to tell about our return home. It’s been really great catching up with people who I haven’t seen in forever and I’m so happy to be back here (and I’m so happy to be drinking our tap water again wow).

MUSIC: I wasn’t sure if I liked Lorde’s new song when I first heard it. It’s so different from anything on Pure Heroine that it felt wrong. The song has grown on me and now I realised I do like it, it just doesn’t quite feel like a Lorde song. Despite my initial doubt about it, I fell absolutely in love with this cover of “Green Light”, I can’t stop listening to it:

TV: I am several years late to the party, but I have been loving “The Mindy Project”. It’s super refreshing watching a show where I actually relate to the protagonist – I see so much of myself in Mindy and her insecurities and I love it. I left Canada with about 6 episodes left of the most recent season, so I’m hoping kiwi Netflix will be a bro and get the rights to it soon.

CATS: No surprises here. I was so happy that Tom still loved me when I came back and I’ve spent the past week reminding him that, despite the awesome Airbnb cats I met, he’s my number one (I am aware that it’s weird to talk about your cat like that, but hey, I’ve never pretended I’m not weird about my cat):

Canada, I’ll miss you, but New Zealand, I’m so happy to be back.

Vegetarian Vancouver: Best Places to Eat

A couple of months after moving to Vancouver, Lox and I decided to try vegetarianism. It had been something that interested us both but we’d never really bothered doing anything about it. When we moved into our flat, we decided to not buy any meat, partly because it was expensive and partly because we had no way of cooking it properly (we have a kitchenette – no stove or oven). Transitioning to full-on vegetarianism was pretty straightforward, as it just meant to order different food when we ate out. Vancouver made this easy for us, because there are so many delicious options available. As I’m leaving this city soon, I wanted to share my favourite places to get a mad vege feed, plus they’re all reasonably priced and easily accessible by public transport:

MEET

Hands down my favourite restaurant to ever exist. Everything is vegan, mostly gluten-free, and delicious. Mains range from $10-$15 but I always end up spending more because their starters are delicious (shout out to their whisky BBQ chiggin’ things). I am convinced I could bring my most carnivorous friends here and they would love the food. Totally recommend if you’re a baby vegetarian missing your old diet and having a mad meat craving.

To get there: There are two locations but the Main Street one’s vibe is more my thing: from Main Street-Science World SkyTrain station, take the no. 3 bus up Main Street (the Gastown location is about a 10 minute walk from Waterfront station).

3G VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

Most Asian restaurants are pretty vegetarian-friendly already, but you cannot beat 3G. When I first ate here, I wasn’t sure if I was actually in a vegetarian restaurant, as my meal looked and tasted an awful lot like actual chicken. All the meat substitutes are made from soya and are unreasonably delicious – their soya chicken in sweet and sour sauce is my favourite thing, plus the veggie tempura and spring rolls are beautiful. Mains are around $15 for a very generous portion.

To get there: Take the Canada line to King Edward Station and walk a couple of blocks (there are also a million buses running in that area).

BANDIDAS TACQUERIA

If you’re craving Mexican food, this is absolutely the place to go. Everything is vegetarian, with options to veganify your meal too, and they offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you’re covered no matter what time of day you’re visiting. I particularly recommend Dani’s enchilada, because I’m pretty sure it’s the best thing in the world. I don’t have a picture because I’m terrible at taking decent food shots, so instead be amazed by how amazing the tacos look.

Let's taco bout it. 🌮 #bandidastaqueria #best #glutenfree #itsbeentoolong #vegetarian

A post shared by Tiarra Sulyk (@tiarrasulyk) on

To get there: Take the Skytrain to Commercial-Broadway and walk a couple of blocks down Commercial Drive.

Honorable mentions to Cafe Deux Soleils (everything is vegetarian, with lots of vegan and gluten-free options too), The Wallflower (not vegetarian, but has lots of options so “Omnivores, Carnivores, Vegan, Vegetarian and Celiacs can all dine together in comfort”), and The Foundation (the small nachos are more than enough for two people, I promise). Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or if there are any I’ve missed!

Thankful

img_9620Canadian October feels strange to me – I’m used to October holding longer days, temperamental spring weather, and not much else. Obviously, the seasons here are flipped, but even North American fall is a far cry from NZ autumn. I’ve never felt the change in seasons so distinctly, or seen leaves with such vibrantly different colours. (I also never realised that those giant orange pumpkins were what pumpkins actually look like over here.) October in Canada also means Thanksgiving, a tradition that doesn’t exist in NZ. I know Thanksgiving doesn’t have the prettiest history, but I think the idea of a holiday based on being thankful is really beautiful, so here are some of the things that I’m thankful for:

  • Minus the turkey, most Thanksgiving food is actually completely vegetarian-friendly (I think yam fries are my new favourite thing), and on Friday night I had a delicious meal with my flatmates (and I had tofurkey and didn’t feel left out at all!).
  • My flatmates are a really great group of people, and I don’t think I could have been luckier to fall into this living situation.
  • Pumpkin pie.
  • On Monday, a friend of mine hosted a vegan Thanksgiving, and it was really cool to try a bunch of foods I ordinarily wouldn’t – who knew that vegan ice cream was actually almost as good as the real thing?
  • I’ve been working in a really cool job with a wonderful team.
  • Fuzzy socks.
  • After many years of struggle, I think I’ve finally mastered how to french plait my own hair.
  • I’ve spent the past 6 months living in a beautiful, vibrant city that has so much life (as well offering so much delicious food – I’ll definitely need to do a food post about Vancouver soon!).
  • Tim Horton’s double doubles.
  • Even though it’s still a ways off, I’m excited about how my life will be when I’m back in NZ.
  • I can afford to travel the world with my favourite person and I cannot wait for our next adventures.

Vancouver living

I’ve been in Vancouver for half a year now, which means my working holiday is halfway over, and that there are only six months left until I head home. This post is kind of a little life update, as well as some of the things I’m feeling about this strange and beautiful city:

  • October is my last month in Vancouver, after which Lox and I will head off into the great unknown (which means travel around the country, take pretty pictures of the Canadian landscape, and hopefully find work in a mountain town).
  • This also means that I have just over 2 weeks left at my current job, which is conflicting because I really like my work and my coworkers, but simultaneously I’m so excited to take time off from having responsibilities and to spend all my time exploring this country with my love.
  • I made a reservation at the Catfe (exactly what it sounds like) and even though it’s not for three weeks yet, I am so pumped.
  • Over the weekend I went to the Whitecaps v Colorado game, and despite the fact I’m not into sports and know next-to-nothing about soccer, it was actually really fun (I particularly enjoyed how, in true Canadian style, the commentator thanked the crowd for cheering, and in return the crowd yelled back “you’re welcome!”).
  • I was super excited about having access to makeup brands that we don’t get in NZ, but I’m scared of falling in love with a product I can’t easily get back home, so I haven’t bought any ~fancy makeup since arriving here.
  • It’s only just turned Autumn, but it is already getting really cold, and I’m just realising that I mainly packed summer clothes and my winter wardrobe is woefully inadequate.
  • The leaves changing colour gets me way too excited – I didn’t realise just how much of NZ foliage is evergreen.
  • Vancouver is both weird and wonderful, and it’s strange thinking it won’t be my home for much longer.

#nofilter because Vancouver doesn't need one ⚓️

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

Little things

I had a couple of very frustrating things happen this week – ultimately unimportant and inconsequential, but frustrating nonetheless – and I don’t want to let that taint my memory of the past 7 days, so here is a list of little things that were actually really great this week:

  • Canada’s public holidays are spread out so that there is essentially one every month – I haven’t even been at my job for a full three months, but there have been three public holidays since I started – so on Monday I slept in and had brunch with my housemates.
  • I got some really lovely comments about my newest cover.
  • On Wednesday Lox and I had dinner at Dark Table, a restaurant that is entirely pitch black; not a glimmer of light anywhere. Eating when you can’t see anything started off being incredibly stressful but I eventually relaxed into it. There was nothing else to focus on but the food, so the tastes felt much more intense (though it was a bit of a surprise when I realised I had finished my meal and was futilely stabbing my fork into empty plate).
  • A few days ago I bought a new notebook to inspire me to write more creative pieces, and I’ve actually made a start on coming up with some ideas that I’m really excited about.
  • I stumbled upon Wildlife Aid, the most beautiful Youtube channel ever, and spent Friday night happy-crying and in awe of this wonderful human saving the lives of animals:

  • Lox often works late, so I’ve been binge-watching Gilmore Girls on nights where I’m alone. Somehow I missed watching this show when it actually aired, so I haven’t seen it before. I get really anxious and involved in stories, so Gilmore Girls has been quite calming to watch as it has such low-levels of drama (probably an odd thing to praise in a show). In weeks like this where I have my own dramas going on, watching this show definitely didn’t add to my stress and made me feel much more relaxed.
  • I got to FaceTime with my mum, brother, and cat, and I’m positive they all still love me and miss me.
  • The train station by work is a Pokemon hotbed and this week I caught enough Eevee to get my first Vaporeon (called Ariel, because obviously).
  • On Saturday I went to Lynn Canyon Park and recreated the Pinterest picture that made me fall in love with Vancouver:

🌲

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

  • I could only think of a couple of happy little things when I decided to write this list, so I’m thankful that more moments sprung to mind while writing. My happy lists hold a lot of little memories I probably wouldn’t remember otherwise and I’m going to endeavour to write them more often, so I don’t let my happy fade away.

July ’16 Favourites

July was a weird mix of awesome and difficult. I didn’t feel terribly excited at the thought of making a list of favourites, so I thought I’d mix it up and make a collage of what July 2016 looked like for me:

july2016

I saw a cat for the first time in four months (1) – for a deprived cat lady, it was a truly beautiful moment. I also said goodbye to my own cat (middle picture) and my grandmother, which would’ve been hard regardless but was made exponentially more difficult by being half a world away.

But there were lots of really great things about this month. As well as conquering the Grouse Grind (2), I finally got around to seeing the aquarium at Stanley Park (4: I fell in love with the jellyfish) and checking out Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (6). I’d heard that Capilano was way overrated, but Pinterest pictures like this piqued my interest, and I wanted to decide for myself. It turned out to be very crowded but very beautiful, so if you’re visiting Vancouver, don’t listen to the haters – Capilano is totally worth the money. (Incidentally, here is my Canada board if you need any more romanticised Canadian travel inspiration.)

As this is a favourites post, I wanted to include the picture I took that made me miss the train (3), possibly the only picture of my bare face that I’ve willingly shared to social media (7), and how having a giant tree in my way only highlighted how incredible fireworks are (8). And as for the final picture – I’m a Wellingtonian coffee-snob through and through BUT Starbucks is close to my work, so I go there every so often. Baristas have long struggled with my name (I have an entire album dedicated to glorious misspellings), so I was ridiculously flattered when my barista didn’t bother with figuring it out and wrote this instead. Bless you, kind barista – you made my day, and I’m still smiling a week later.

When this year started, I made it a goal to take a photo everyday, partly to act as a kind of diary and partly so I could improve my skills. I’ve mostly stuck to that goal (I’ve missed about 5 days throughout the whole year) and it’s been a really great way of making sure I find something memorable about each day. It has also meant that I’m forced to remember that good and bad can co-occur and that being sad doesn’t have to mean that my worldview is entirely in grayscale. Even when life is unrelenting, there are still cats to pet, mountains to climb, and flowers to be photographed.

Grindin’ the Grouse

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not at all athletic (in this post from 2012 I said I had never been to a gym and that is still completely true), so I’m not sure quite what I was thinking when I agreed to do the Grouse Grind with Lox.

For those who don’t know, the Grouse Grind is a trail up the front of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver – 2.9 kilometres made up of 2830 steps, with an elevation gain of 853 metres. Pretty different from my usual choice of activity, but it was on every ‘things to do in Vancouver’ list, so two Saturdays ago, Lox and I made the journey out to North Van to tackle the Grouse.

I spent the first half hour sure I was dying. Like I said, I’m not athletic but I do a fair bit of incidental exercise, so I thought I’d be mostly physically prepared. Perhaps unsurprisingly, walking to and from the train station everyday doesn’t exactly prepare you for two hours of constant climbing. Within 10 minutes, I was struggling to breathe and doubting my ability to continue. But I had said I would do it and I don’t like to be wrong (plus the sign at the start said there was no turning back), so I told my lungs to toughen up and forced myself to continue.

Fortunately throughout the hike, there were markers so we could tell how far we had left. The closer we got to the end, the more determined I was. I think eventually my body stopped freaking out about all the unexpected exercise, like my brain told it, “we don’t like it but she doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, better not let her die”. After 3 hours (2 actually spent moving; I needed a lot of rest stops), we finally reached the top. All I wanted to do was collapse and eat everything, so it seemed kind of cruel that the cafe was up a flight of stairs. Though by that point I was kind of numb, so the only thing I felt was overwhelming relief.

The Grind was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I can’t say I recommend it to anyone – I’m more into food and music recommendations – but if, for some reason, you decide that you’re into grindin’ the Grouse, I have a few tips:

  • Bring plenty of food and water (my 500ml drink bottle was woefully inadequate).
  • Wear appropriate clothing, especially footwear. The amount of people wearing Vans made my feet have sympathy pangs.
  • If you’re going to listen to music, listen through headphones. Don’t be that asshole (there were 5 on my hike!) who blasts their music for everyone to hear. It’s a dick move and, honestly, feels a little sacrilegious when you’re surrounded by nature.
  • Don’t get to the halfway point and turn around: 1) You’re halfway, you’re not saving yourself any distance by turning around now; 2) The Grind is steep; you will destroy your knees by walking downhill; 3) It’s literally not allowed. It’s dangerous and annoying and against the rules. On that note…
  • Read the sign at the entrance of the climb that says what’s allowed before starting. It’s not there for bonus reading material.

Despite my gripes, it was all up a great experience and something I’m super proud of completing. And something that I will happily never do again.